State trooper searches vehicle because there were fingerprints on the trunk, Supreme Court throw’s case out

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The Nevada Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out a traffic stop performed by a state trooper caught lying in a job application in a way that “would have been enough to result in his termination.” The justices unanimously ruled that Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Richard Pickers was in the wrong on November 1, 2009 when he searched Kent J. Beckman’s car without a warrant.

That morning, Trooper Pickers accused Beckman of driving 72 MPH in a 65 MPH zone on Interstate 80. As he ran a check on Beckman’s license and registration, Trooper Pickers told his partner that he suspected criminal activity because there were fingerprints on the trunk of Beckman’s car. He asked for a drug dog to be sent out. After the papers turned out to be in order, Trooper Pickers returned them and handed Beckman a warning.

“Everything checks good,” Trooper Pickers said. “Be careful, it’s a long drive.”

Before Beckman could leave, however, Trooper Pickers asked him whether he could search his vehicle. Beckman refused, so he was told he was no longer free to leave and that he would have to wait for the drug dog to arrive. The dog alerted and a search of the vehicle turned up cocaine and methamphetamine. This evidence was found to be unlawfully obtained after the justices found Trooper Pickering unlawfully extended the duration of the initial traffic stop based based on a flimsy pretense.

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